Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for
laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and
brightly decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love. I
had not believed this until a small elf-like student with wide-eyed
innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one
Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter
middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her
dead sister's son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it
hadn't been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif.
Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet
and gentle child.
I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after
class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt's anger, I later
found) to help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and
comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that
hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother.
Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind,
gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.
As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school
each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed
and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I
stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the
room. I told him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up
eagerly as he replied, "Did you really miss me?"
I explained how he had been my best helper. "I was making you a
surprise," he whispered confidentially. "It's for Christmas." With
that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn't
stay after school any more after that.
Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly
into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing
something behind his back. "I have your present," he said timidly
when I looked up. "I hope you like it." He held out his hands, and
there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.
"Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?" I asked opening the
top to look inside. "
"Oh you can't see what's in it," He replied, "and you can't touch
it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel
good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you're all
I gazed into the empty box. "What is it Mark," I asked gently, "that
will make me feel so good?" "It's love," he whispered softly, "and
mother always said it's best when you give it away." And he turned
and quietly left the room.
So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood
on the piano in my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it.
Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth and song, for good and wondrous
gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love.
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